Michael Crichton was responsible for one of my all-time favourite television shows (ER), so for this week's A-Z Wednesday Challenge -- we're up to the letter N -- I decided to acknowledge his considerable talent by choosing one of his novels, Next. Not his best, but I did find it a real page-turner.
Crichton, perhaps best known for Jurassic Park, released this book back in 2006, with the paperback coming out about a year later. It was to be his last novel. I eagerly looked forward to reading it and while I would agree with some of the criticisms levelled at the book -- too many characters and sub-plots, for example -- I still most definitely recommend it.
The novel is based on genetics. At Harper Collins, the book's publisher, I found this description:
Is a loved one missing some body parts? Are blondes becoming extinct? Is everyone at your dinner table of the same species? Humans and chimpanzees differ in only 400 genes; is that why a chimp fetus resembles a human being? And should that worry us? There's a new genetic cure for drug addiction—is it worse than the disease?
We live in a time of momentous scientific leaps, a time when it's possible to sell our eggs and sperm online for thousands of dollars and to test our spouses for genetic maladies.
We live in a time when one fifth of all our genes are owned by someone else, and an unsuspecting person and his family can be pursued cross-country because they happen to have certain valuable genes within their chromosomes . . .
Devilishly clever, Next blends fact and fiction into a breathless tale of a new world where nothing is what it seems and a set of new possibilities can open at every turn.
Next challenges our sense of reality and notions of morality. Balancing the comic and the bizarre with the genuinely frightening and disturbing, Next shatters our assumptions and reveals shocking new choices where we least expect.
The future is closer than you think.
I couldn't tell you how accurately the science of genetics is presented in this novel, which parts are the creation of Crichton's imagination and which are based in fact. All I can say is that I enjoyed the book, especially Gerard, the intellligent grey parrot. If you're interested, your local library likely has several copies.